The war ended, he returned to his home in Fauquier, where he lived in dignified retirement, broken more than once by the voice of the people who demanded his services in the legislature. His hospitable home was always open, and there he spent the peaceful evening of his days. He had lived a long life filled with great events. Indeed the chief difficulty in speaking of him is to select where material is so abundant. Almost coeval in time with the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, the story of his life involves the history of his country, which he served in the legislature of the State, in the congress of the United, as the executive of the State in time of peace and again in time of war. He might truthfully have said with old Aeneas:
Of no distemper, of no blast he died,And now we are gathered to unveil a monument to his memory and to present it to the Commonwealth of Virginia, in whose service his life was spent. To erect monuments that we may perpetuate the memory of noble deeds, seems to me an inversion of the true order of things. It is striving to make the perishable bear witness to that which is imperishable; to call upon that which is earthly to keep alive that which is spiritual and immortal. You may stand at the tomb of Achilles and hear Troy doubted. Gone are its towers and battlements, its stately temples and gorgeous palaces, but the Iliad which tells the story of the siege and fall of Troy is as fresh today as it was three thousand years ago. This bronze will yield to the remorseless touch of time, this granite pedestal will crumble into dust; but the influence of a noble life is never lost, nor its memory wholly forgotten until the day when
But fell like autumn fruit that mellow'd long—
Even wonder'd at, because he dropped no sooner.
Fate seemed to wind him up for four-score years,
Yet freshly ran he on ten winters more;
Till like a clock worn out with eating time,
The wheels of weary life at last stood still.